There may be some truth to the saying “you are who you hang out with.” Researchers have discovered that teens whose best friends drink alcohol are twice as likely to try alcohol themselves. And, if teens get alcohol from friends, they’re more likely to start drinking at a younger age.
It’s a big deal. Studies have shown that a person who drinks alcohol early is more prone to abusing alcohol when he or she gets older.
So, if your friends drink and you don’t want to, what are you supposed to do? Get a whole new set of friends? That’s probably not necessary—but you might have to work a little harder to stay away from alcohol. It can be tough to say no if the people you’re with are all doing something. It’s a good idea to have some strategies for dealing with peer pressure.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It’s brave to stand up for yourself. Be that guy or girl who doesn’t drink. It might be hard at first, but eventually people will respect you for sticking to your beliefs. You might even start to influence some of your friends to stay away from alcohol too.
- Not everyone is doing it. In fact, according to NIDA’s 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, less than one-third of 10th graders reported using alcohol in the past month.
- It’s okay to make up an excuse. If someone is really hounding you, dodge the issue—you could say that you took medicine that will make you sick if you drink. But ask yourself: If someone isn’t respecting your decisions, then are they really that good a friend?
Tell us: How do you avoid doing something you don’t want to if your friends are doing it?